Monday, March 30, 2009

Friend or foe? Invasives.

Well, I must say that I'm disappointed. I decided to check out my latest plant acquisitions (see previous post) and found out that, in Ohio, the "Hawkeye" Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) is an invasive plant species. I went to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website and found my new plant on their 10-most-UNwanted-list. *sigh*

I was familiar with the invasives like Purple Loosestrife, and have often seen masses of Common Reed, especially along freeway drainage swales, and other low lying areas. But I had no idea that these pretty honeysuckles are flora-non-grata in my state. I remembered lots of honeysuckle shrubs around were I grew up in Lake County, Ohio. Dark green leaves and bright red berries. As kids we didn't know they were honeysuckles, we just called them 'bird bushes' because there were always a lot of birds eating the berries. Was the "Hawkeye" the only honeysuckle baddie? But no. Further search found another informative site, The Nature Conservancy in Ohio. Here the 4 invasive honeysuckle bushes (and suggested alternatives) are listed.

I did a few searches using the words "invasive plants" or "invasive species" and the name of a state and found state sites with invasives as well as "now what do I do?" advice. You might want to bookmark your state's list for reference. I'm finding that some of the seeds I've received in seed exchanges are invasives in my area so will not even sow them now that I know.

Since my honeysuckle was on sale, there is no taking it back. And honestly, I wouldn't want it to go back on the shelf to be sold to some other unwary customer. Instead I'll dispose of it in a way so as not to give it opportunity to root in compost or end up in a landfill. Alerting the store about the plant most likely would achieve nothing, it being a local quick-sell overstock type of store that it is. No, I'm sure that any comment to the management that they are selling invasive species would fall on deaf ears and the employees probably don't have any say on what they sell anyway. The real nub is that what they sell is not illegal. Still, that just doesn't make it right. (Note: had I purchased the honeysuckle from a nursery, you can bet your garden clogs I'd have made an issue out of it!)

As gardeners we take great pleasure from our gardens and in sharing our bounty. The flip side is we have a responsibility to not be part of a problem (introducing invasives), but be part of the solution. And it's a simple thing to do: check your state listings. (Honestly, they aren't all that long from what I've read). Then simply don't plant those troublemakers. Instead, opt for something native or non-invasive (that list is monster-huge!). :-D

So even though something is readily available, or cheap, or popularly accepted, as gardeners and growers we have to think of a different bottom line: the health of our native environments. In the end, this was, for me, a good lesson learned. From now on I will familiarize myself with invasive species in my area and be more aware of my gardening practices.

I mean, even though I'm pinching pennies like a lot of us these days, I sure don't want to sell out Mom Nature just to save a buck.


  1. You did the right thing.
    I have a horrible vine weed that I think is some kind of non-flowering honeysuckle. Ugh. Just strangles everything. I will have to try round-up on it.

  2. Hi Voter Mom. I wish you good luck with that unwanted vine - I've done battle with several green nemeses in my time...

  3. I know that honeysuckle here can really take over. I don't think nurserys should be able to sell plants on the invasive list for that state. Most people don't take the time to find out if it's invasive because they figure it must be okay if they are selling it in a nursery. Is it something that can go in a planter?

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  5. We are just now trying to get rid of a Morrow honeysuckle, also on the invasive species list for Ohio. My husband says we bought it when we first moved here (31+ years ago) and planted it, but I don't remember that. Anyway, it's easy to see why it's invasive. YOU CAN'T KILL IT! We have chopped that thing to the ground, hacked at it, spit on it, and cursed at it, but it has all kinds of new shoots coming out. There will be a blog post on this monster soon. I WILL get it out of there somehow.

    The bees LOVE it when it's in bloom. Oh my gosh...remember the bee tree in The Berenstain Bears books? Yep, this one hums when it's in bloom.

    But it's a baddy otherwise!

  6. Kylee. You gotta dig up those roots and then use herbicide on any shoots that come up from those that are left behind. I had "border privet" at my last house (an unknown shrub to me then) and when it bloomed you could hear the bees from the end of the driveway. And it smelled wonderful. How can something that good be so bad? *sigh* Good luck with the Morrow...

  7. Ummm...wait until you see the "roots". LOL. I don't think digging is an option. Grinder maybe...

  8. Whoa! Good luck! Take pics! :-D


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